When it rains it pours, and it sure feels like a monsoon in Birdland over this last week. The Orioles lost yet again on Sunday, 8-6, securing a sweep at the hands of the Boston Red Sox. Both the starting pitching and the bats did well enough to give the O’s a win, but Mychal Givens fell apart yet again to conclude the homestand with five consecutive losses.
There was actually a lot to like about the Orioles performance in this game prior to the bottom of the ninth inning. It started, as it often does, with the performance of the starting pitcher.
John Means was not at his best on Sunday, allowing at least a one baserunner in each of his five innings on the mound. But he battled and kept the O’s in a position to compete. Once again, Means reasserted the fact that he is still the best pitcher on the entire roster.
The southpaw’s first trip through the Red Sox lineup went smoothly enough. He allowed three singles in three innings but used a double play and a strikeout to work himself out of any trouble.
His only real struggles came in the fourth frame. Rafael Devers reached base on a one-out single and then came in to score on a Xander Bogaerts double. Michael Chavis followed with a single, but poor base-running from Bogaerts gifted the O’s with their second out of the inning. However, it did not put an end to the threat. Later, Jackie Bradley Jr. doubled to right field, scoring Chavis and giving the Red Sox a 2-1 lead.
Those were the only two runs that Means would allow all day. He returned for the fifth inning and worked around two walks to close out his day with a final line of five innings, two runs, seven hits, two walks and two strikeouts. Unfortunately, it would all be for not as he was saddled with a hard luck no decision.
The Orioles did have an early lead in this game for a brief moment. Hanser Alberto singled home Keon Broxton, who had doubled to lead-off the third inning. Apart from that, the Red Sox patchwork pitching staff left the home team’s offense largely silent for the first seven innings of the afternoon.
The O’s did nearly put up another run in the fourth inning when Anthony Santander crossed home plate, but a review wiped that run off the board. It was determined that Keon Broxton, who had grounded out on the play, had interfered with the throw to first base by running outside of the base-path. All of the runners had to return to their original bases, Broxton was ruled out and Brandon Hyde was peeved.
Hyde kindly let the umpires know that he was unhappy with their decision. For their part, the umpires asked Mr. Hyde to relocate to the clubhouse for the remainder of the game. Begrudgingly, he obliged for the second time this season.
Brandon Hyde has been ejected from today's game. pic.twitter.com/qD4y47fIi2— Orioles on MASN (@masnOrioles) June 16, 2019
Jonathan Villar woke up the bats with his legs in the eighth inning. He led off the frame with a walk. Then, he stole second base. A few pitches later, he swiped third when Christian Vazquez, the Red Sox catcher, lazily tossed the ball back to the pitcher. A few pitches after that, Villar slid home on a wild pitch to tie the game at two runs apiece.
Stevie Wilkerson kept things going in that inning. The utility-man pinch hit for Richie Martin, tripled on a hit into the right field corner and then crossed the plate on an Alberto single up the middle. All of the sudden, the O’s had a 3-2 advantage.
All closer Mychal Givens had to do was get three measly outs. Easy, right?
Not so much.
With one out in the ninth inning, Marco Hernandez smacked a solo home run to center field to tie things up 3-3 and give Givens his fifth blown save of the season. It was the middle infielder’s first home run of the season.
Marco picked a great time to hit his first home run of the season! pic.twitter.com/uYf6DeySlE— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) June 16, 2019
For some reason, Givens remained in the game for the 10th inning, and looked just dreadful. Devers led off the inning with another home run. Bogaerts then reached on a Rio Ruiz error and Chavis followed with a single. That ended Givens’s afternoon, and he was replaced by David Hess. So, not exactly an upgrade.
Raffy, you are cleared for takeoff. pic.twitter.com/QXjoqBX1Ii— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) June 16, 2019
Hess did not do much better than his predecessor. He walked Brock Holt and then gave up a two-run single to Mookie Betts. Vazquez extended the lead with a two-run base hit of his own. When it was all said and done, the Orioles trailed the Red Sox by a score of 8-3.
The bats fought back again in the Baltimore half of the inning, but it wasn’t enough to catch up. With one out, Wilkerson smacked a two-run home run onto the flag court. Two batters later, Trey Mancini hit his 16th round-tripper of the season, this one of the solo variety. And that is as close as they would get. Pedro Severino grounded out to end the game with the final 8-6 scoreline.
It should be reiterated that there were some positives here. Mancini’s bat is still hot. Means looked solid once again. Villar was a menace on the bases. Wilkerson provided a spark off the bench. The four relievers (Jimmy Yacabonis, Richard Bleier, Shawn Armstong and Paul Fry) that pitched in between Means and Givens were really good. And Alberto kept on hitting.
But Givens’s performance soured the whole day. It may be a tough pill to swallow, but something clearly seems to be wrong with Givens when he pitches in the ninth inning. The O’s coaching staff may need to release some pressure on the right-hander and give those rare save opportunities to another member of the ‘pen for the time being.
The Orioles will try to break the losing streak on Monday, when they start a west coast road trip in Oakland with three games against the Athletics. Andrew Cashner (6-2, 4.73 ERA) is on the mound for game one. He will be opposed by Mike Fiers (6-3, 4.63). First pitch is set for 10:07 p.m. ET from the Oakland Coliseum.